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location recording outfit-advice?


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#1 Gareth Blackstock

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 09:09 AM

I recently purchased an Audiowerk 8 recorder card to start finalising my little “sound studio” As I have a bit of time before I have to use the system, it gives me time to learn how to actually use Audiowerk 8. Basically I shoot short films, on Super8 cameras and am experimenting with recording live sound at a better quality level than what I have been doing up to date.

From this forum I was hoping to gain some advice on my recording system, hidden pitfalls or benefits to look for.

So far I have:
Effective camera blimp by two
Shure PG48 microphone + assorted dynamic mikes of lesser quality
Portable Audio mixer for mixing multiple mikes into one line
Sony MiniDisc recorder, non HD.
Audiowerk 8 audio card + VMR

What I need to buy:
Mike Pre-amp
(yet to buy, need low amperage one—see below)
Power converter
(yet to buy, something that runs off a car battery to power pre-amp for location sessions.)

I realise the problems of shooting non-sync camera with separate sound, this I have fixed during editing. The MiniDisc may be not the best choice in many peoples view, but I find the sound great, and the recorder cheap, portable, and rugged. The Audiowerk 8 seems a good choice, but I need to learn more about using this and what it can do for me. Like I said, if people are able to advise on my system, or what to look out for, that would be great.

Cheers.
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#2 Hal Smith

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 09:25 PM

Don't use a battery to AC converter (an inverter) to power up a mixer or preamp. Unless you buy a very expensive model (usually described as generating a pure sine wave) they generate all sorts of electrical trash and interference that frequently ends up in the recording. Find a mixer and/or preamp that can be battery powered. If you run anything directly off the car's battery, don't run anything electric or electronic in the car while recording, cars also have a lot of trash on their electrical systems.
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#3 Gareth Blackstock

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 05:34 AM

After posting my query, i did a little research on inveerters, and from what i can tell you are quite right, if i want to use a pre-amp i will have to spend a lot of dollars!

I think i will stick with what i have been doing, using a cheaper dynamic mic straight into a minidisc. So far the sound is very good, just have to get a sock.

i may buy a pre-amp for mains connection to use with my shure "in studio".

there seems a great deal i need to learn about field recording on a small budget.

cheers
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#4 Alex Donkle

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:34 AM

After posting my query, i did a little research on inveerters, and from what i can tell you are quite right, if i want to use a pre-amp i will have to spend a lot of dollars!

I think i will stick with what i have been doing, using a cheaper dynamic mic straight into a minidisc. So far the sound is very good, just have to get a sock.

i may buy a pre-amp for mains connection to use with my shure "in studio".

there seems a great deal i need to learn about field recording on a small budget.

cheers


Yes a good preamp is going to cost a bit, but a dynamic mic doesn't fix that problem like you imply. Dynamic mics have worse transient response (response to fast noises) and are larger and heavier in general. They output basically the same level and both need good preamps to operate at their best, however a condenser just needs 'phantom power' to operate. +48V generated by the mixer or recorder (most have the option to supply this). This a recorder either has or doesn't have, there's not quality concern here.

For fun sound effects and guitars and drums, dynamics can be great, but not for film dialog. You want a condenser and trying to grab an Oktava mk012 would be a great start for interiors, an Audio-Technica AT4073a as a shotgun for exterior (in a lot of wind you'll want at least a fuzzy, slide-on style wind blocker, but swing for the Rode blimp system if you can for med-high wind situations).

As for MiniDisk, it's a compressed format with a mechanical component. Going with something like a Zoom flash-based recorded would be much safer as then you don't risk a mechanical error like the disk getting scratched and losing all your work (although you should always backup everything for sound and video no matter what you record to). Plus with something like the Zoom you can record uncompressed wav files that are cleaner.

A good clean preamp is another story. The Zoom H4n has good preamps built-in with its recorder, but down the road grabbing a real mixer like Sound Devices 302 would be ideal.
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#5 Gareth Blackstock

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 07:01 AM

good advise on the mikes, may have to re-think the way i approach that area. Although i have had great results so far without a pre-amp. concerning the other items you suggest, they may be excellent for sound quality, but as i am spending my own money, with no chance of making money, I have to purchase items, that if not used frequently, will not annoy me.

kind of like buying a ducati motorcycle from new, and only having 10,000 kms on the clock after 10 years. pointless.

I have seen a great feal of fantastic audio devices for sale, but i have to justify the cost versus use, the balance is what i am after.

concerning the minidisc, true, there is compression, but i have done comparisons myself on other peoples equipment, and i have to say that as i am not an audio expert, merely an "audience member" i cannot tell the difference on unmixed, moderate volume recordings.

i do not mean to sound unappreciative, i just have to weigh my needs against my wants.
cheers.
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#6 Alex Donkle

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 01:30 PM

You're in the same boat as a lot of people and if you're not planning on using equipment a lot, renting is generally the best method for getting high quality audio. And really, finding a sound person with gear is the best as then you'll be getting their experience as well.

Everything is relative however and if you're just cutting your teeth on some fun projects and learning, owning some lower-end gear can be invaluable as it'll let you work completely on your own schedule and learn the basics for yourself.

Good luck,
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